April 2021 | latest update: April 2023 | by Lili
Bitcoin, the most prominent example of cryptocurrencies has been part of our world for over a decade. Ever since its inception in 2009 bitcoin became increasingly popular with the more tech-savvy part of societies all across the globe.
Today, bitcoins are used in an increasing number of transactions, but while the majority of people can still avoid them if they want to, online brand protection experts can’t. Read on and find out why.
Introduced in 2009, bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency of the world. Presented in a white paper as “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system”, bitcoin was invented by a person or persons using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. A bitcoin is actually a string of encrypted computer code; there are no physical coins or notes in circulation.
According to the white paper, online financial transactions rely on trusted third parties (mostly banks), which creates unnecessary vulnerabilities and costs in the system. Bitcoins, on the other hand, don’t need the element of trust (and thus the third party at all) because they provide cryptographic proof that allow two parties to transact with each other directly.
When a transaction occurs (i.e. an electronic “coin” is transferred from one person to another), the owner sends the coin to the receiver by adding new data, including the new owner’s public key to the coin’s existing coding.
The system is protected by encryption and distributed ledgers. This latter means that all transactions are available to all parties, and if a new transaction occurs, it needs to be verified and accepted by all parties concerned.
The main advantage of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general is their high level of privacy and decentralization. While not completely anonymous (in fact, transactions are visible online), bitcoin offers great levels of privacy to its users. And since no governing authority like a central bank has the power to influence the value of these currencies, a bitcoin’s worth is entirely dependent on market forces.
Funnily enough, the main drawback of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general is their high level of privacy and decentralization. If a user knows how to mask their identity, bitcoin is the perfect currency for shady transactions (hence its popularity on the darknet).
And due to their high fluctuation of value (i.e. anything between $123 and $60.743 so far), bitcoins may not present the safest investment opportunity out there. Lately though this cryptocurrency’s popularity has steadily been on the rise. Tesla has certainly contributed to this with its decision to purchase a considerable amount of bitcoin and accept it as payment for its products.
Since no central authority is entitled to issue bitcoin, new coins can be created by a process called mining. Anybody can be a miner, as long as they have expert IT knowledge and access to “very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems.” If mining doesn’t sound like your thing, you can still get bitcoins by buying them or by accepting them as payment.
Using bitcoin requires a secure cryptocurrency wallet. Once you have that set up, the shopping can commence. Many retailers and marketplaces worldwide accept bitcoin as a legitimate currency. From electronic devices to food delivery, you can navigate everyday life with this cryptocurrency increasingly well.
And this is exactly why online brand protection experts can’t ignore bitcoin. Because if marketplaces, clients, and copyright infringers use it, how can we not?
If used correctly, bitcoins can provide anonymity to both seller and receiver in a financial transaction. Although the whole payment structure is transparent and visible online, no names appear in transactions (like with credit cards) but bitcoin addresses. And here’s where the waters become muddy.
Savvy users create a new bitcoin address for every transaction, which makes it really hard to link one transaction to any others. This is why people with less pure objectives in mind (e.g. counterfeiting, grey marketing, or any other criminal activities) use it as a preferred way to pay.
And if sellers ask people to pay in bitcoins for their products, globaleyez has no choice but to comply. After all, our test purchases only work if we act like a regular buyer, doing everything as any other customer would do. In this case, pay with bitcoin.
But what are test purchases and why are they necessary?
Many people associate the word “test” with their schooldays. Today, sadly, we hear this word regularly in connection with
the coronavirus pandemic. But to us at globaleyez, test purchases don’t mean buying COVID tests en masse (and definitely not buying school tests). Instead, the term refers to one of our strongest pillars of online brand protection.
Quite simply put, a test purchase is when a brand requests us to buy their branded product from a certain seller. A call for a test purchase always leads back to a larger, underlying issue: the online presence of a brand. When something disturbs the image a brand wants to project about itself online, a test purchase is one of the best ways to get to the root of the problem. Many causes may contribute to this problem, including:
To fight against these issues that disturb the intended presentation of branded products and therefore can affect consumers' perception, we do a test purchase. This service allows us to learn valuable information about the origin and quality of a product and the behaviour of a seller. Thanks to this, test purchases set us on the path that eventually leads to the removal of copyright infringing listings, and even the potential prosecution of perpetrators.
A test purchase can be initiated when a client requests it, or when we discover certain anomalies during our marketplace monitoring service that warrants further investigations.
We conduct test purchases both on- and offline, in over 50 countries worldwide. We don’t buy the products in our own name (that would certainly tip the seller off). Instead, we have partners in those countries who are able to initiate the purchases as regular customers.
In the course of a test purchase, we document everything, starting from the original listing displayed on the marketplace. Our time-stamped records and pictures are admissible in court, which helps our clients with eventual prosecution (if they opt for it).
Finally, we put everything together in a report and draft recommendations for our clients on further action, including takedowns and the enforcement of their copyright.
Our expertise allows us to approach each test purchase carefully and individually. For example, we make the necessary distinctions between B2C and B2B purchases and treat them accordingly.
Our service is not limited to marketplaces in the classic sense of the word; in fact, we can buy from social media platforms, chat rooms, even the darknet. Which - how neat! - brings us back full circle to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies’ role in online brand protection.
Our test purchase service, whether carried out with bitcoin or more conventional currencies is the foundation of our comprehensive online brand protection solutions.
If your brand experiences any issues in the ecommerce space, we’re here to help. Reach out to globaleyez and find out how our comprehensive approach to online brand protection can help your brand thrive.